Chhota Udaipur district in Gujarat lies in the heart of a tribal area with rich indigenous history and culture which is more representative of the region than palaces. The town is a good base from which to explore the surrounding tribal villages, particularly in the Rathwa communities. The Rathwa tribes who live here produce the Pithora mural paintings by mixing colours with liquour and milk and then using it to depict intricate motifs and scenes on the walls of their village dwellings.
Chhota Udaipur is the third tribal dominated district in eastern Gujarat after the Narmada and Tapi districts. It is among the most backward areas, comprising predominantly of tribal population living below the poverty line. People living in this area suffer from a lack of health infrastructure, which has jeopardized their inclusion in universal coverage for specialist care. But, VLE Govind Bhai Alsingbhai is delivering valuable healthcare through the employment of new technical innovations in telemedicine, which has improved healthcare delivery in this remote tribal dominated region.
Sustainable Healthcare through CSC
VLE says, “Tribals in this area suffer from nutritional deficiencies such as protein and energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Gastrointestinal disorders like dysentery, parasitic infections and malaria are common in them as well. High prevalence of genetic disorders such as sickle-cell anemia is endemic in a few of them. Their health is further compromised by social issues such as excessive consumption of alcohol and in some areas, tobacco consumption is rapidly increasing as well. The triad of lack of health infrastructure, roads, and extreme poverty has further compelled many to ignore their health problems. Thus, understanding the dynamics of poor tribal health is a challenge as well as a means of understanding the public health in the tribal context.”
In the last six months, VLE Govind Bhai has provided treatment to 900 patients under telemedicine service. CSC telemedicine is only platform which allows consultation with Allopathic, homeopathic and Aryuvedic doctors besides Unani doctors in some states. CSC can buy medicine and supply to patient as per doctors’ prescription.
Access to health services becomes more difficult in this tribal area as the roads are poor or nonexistent. There is a lack of public/private transport and ambulance services and, additionally, mobile networks does not reach many areas reliably. lack of human resources, especially doctors and specialists, language and social barriers, lack of access to money etc. add to access problems. In this backdrop, CSC telemedicine has emerged a game changer in the region of Chhota Udaipur.
Govind’s CSC is also acting as:
Universal access to integrated comprehensive public health services in the village;
Child health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene;
Prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, including locally endemic diseases;
Revitalization of local health traditions and main-stream Ayurvedic, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy Systems of Health (AYUSH);
Promotion of healthy lifestyles.
VLE goes a long way in not only managing the epidemic but also strengthening the health systems in the medium and long run in this remote village. He is paving the path to guaranteeing right to health, bringing social justice in the discourse on health, higher attention on equity and ‘leaving no one behind’ with inclusion of marginalized communities.
CSC DigiPay-Reaching the Bottom of Pyramid
Within the Chhota-udaipur forest division, Rathawas and Dhanka tribes are mainly found constituting nearly 88.62 % of total ST population. These tribes still preserve certain reminiscences of their values and cultural system inherited historically, and are inclined not to embrace modernity to a desirable level. Of course, their alienation from the mainstream community is partly attributed to their cultural settings and the value system which they imbibed from their social structures. It is apparent that it is practically precarious for tribes to live in isolation from the mainstream at least in respect of using money as a medium of exchange. In this context, the role of CSC DigiPay in tribal dominated Chhota Udaipur area assumes significance.
39 years old Vaniya Bhaipar Singh is a MNREGA worker and lives in Chhota Udaipur village, Antroli Taluka, Gujarat. He is from Rathwas tribal community. Due to coronavirus lockdown, he found himself out of job, instantly unable to afford food. Vaniya Bhaipar Singh came to the CSC centre of Govind Bhai Alsingbhai and received direct cash transfer benefit of Rs. 1000 under PMGKY immediately through DigiPay. This village Chhota Udepur is located in a dense forest area. The bank is at 28 km distance. In this context, Digipay is very helpful for villagers who want to withdraw money.
VLE Govind Bhai also provides LPG gas booking for PMUY beneficiaries. He has booked 600 LPG gas bookings in the last three months. Cylinders are being delivered every day while the waiting period for cylinders in most of the places remains less than two days, VLE informed. During most of the days, tribal women in the forest areas of Chhota Udaipur sat cooking and coughing their lungs out in a murky stifling kitchen. Statistics show that such smoke-filled kitchens took the lives of 1.2 lakh people in 2015 in India. Thanks to VLEs like Govind Bhai Alsingbhai now, the tribal women in Chhota Udepur are getting this service at their nearest CSC.
The VLE also provides other services like insurance, recharge, electricity bill, LIC premium, tele-medicine, LED bulb. The VLE is helping these migrant labourers, workers, homeless and the poor without a ration card through his fair price shop.
Apart from this, the CSC in Chhota Udaipur is enhancing tribal communities opportunities by improving their access to market information and lower transaction costs (for poor farmers and traders); increase efficiency, competitiveness and market access. VLE is playing an important role in direct poverty alleviation by enhancing activities of poor and increasing their productivity by way of financial services and new opportunities to design and market products. (Dear Readers, Please share your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)